Chicago teacher receives military, education awards

May 4, 2011 4:43:52 AM PDT
Aaron Rucker has done it all and done it well. On Tuesday, the Chicago teacher was honored for dedication to the military and education.

Rucker, 42, teaches at Marshall Metropolitan High School on the city's West Side. On Tuesday, he was named the May 2011 Veteran of the Month by the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs and aksi received the Governor's Award for Excellence in Education.

"It's more now than just sitting in front of a classroom and giving a lecture and trying to be an expert. Now it's about relationships, it's about caring ... it's about going the extra yard," Rucker said of teaching.

Rucker is part of the program Troops to Teachers, which transitions military vets into the classroom.

"He's a great example of the kind of service a school can benefit from by hiring a veteran. These men and women have been all over the world and come with an ethic of service and experience you can't find anywhere else," Dan Grant, director of Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs, said.

Rucker is a former Chicago police officer and has served two tours in Afghanistan, where the Army major was wounded. He has three masters' degrees and now teaches special education at Marshall. It all fits together.

"Being in the military and teaching and being a police officer ... you learn about teamwork, camaraderie, leadership. It helps me to get organized. It allows me to be a servant to my community and better myself and better those around me," Rucker said.

From troop to teacher, this husband and father hopes Illinois schools will hire more vets with teacher certificates.